Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shopping for a New Car Step #3: How to Get the Best Price on a New Car

We gave ourselves a couple of weeks to process our research on all of the vehicles.  And with all these things considered, we purchased...the Honda Pilot!  I have been driving it for a week now and I don't regret my decision one bit.  In fact, I continue to appreciate the roominess of the Pilot and how easy it is to drive!  It's pretty fantastic having a "Mommy Car!"

But, let me back up a step.   It wasn't that easy.

After determining that the Pilot met our needs the best, we (mostly I) needed to figure out how to get the best deal.  As I mentioned in Step #1 of Shopping for a New Car, I found a great resource in  The only thing I didn't expect were the dealerships to still play tricks about the price and availability - including telling me they had 2 cars to my exact specifications and when I got down there an hour later they were magically gone (not sold, just gone). 

I also learned the valuable lesson that while websites like give you the best prices on cars, you typically can't get great financing through the dealership.  Basically, you can have either great rebates (a.k.a. a lower price on the vehicle) or great financing (a.k.a. higher price on the vehicle) from the dealerships - at least that is what I was told by 4 or 5 dealerships.

Knowing that I couldn't have my cake and eat it, too, from the dealership, I decided to explore the option of getting the best possible price on a car and then finding my financing elsewhere.  I checked with a couple of banks/credit unions, including the one that holds our mortgage.  I thought we might get a good rate from them considering we already have a pretty good piece of business with them.  Yeah, I was wrong on that one.  They actually quoted us the worst rate!  Go figure. 

After some time on the internet and phone, I was able to secure the best interest rate from USAA.  While I was talking with a nice person from USAA, she suggested that I look into their auto-buying program.  Since I am an equal-opportunity savings seeker, I gave it a whirl.  And wouldn't you know it...their guaranteed price was more than $1000 lower!  Score, even a better deal!  I emailed the dealership's internet sales person and he confirmed they had the vehicle we were looking for in stock.  Yippee!

From there, I was ready.  We were approved for a loan and now all we had to do was get the out-the-door price so I could have the check printed and ready for when we went to the dealership.  That's when the internet sales person threw me for a loop. After telling him that I already secured a interest rate of 3.25%, he indicated that they were offering 1.9% financing.  Of course, I had been to that rodeo before and explained that I wanted the best deal on the price of the car and knew that I couldn't do that if I took their financing.  Then he said, "You can have the low price and the low interest rate." 

I made him repeat and explain himself a few times.  (Now I realize that their isn't that big of a difference between 1.9% and 3.25%. But to this Nickel and Dimer, that was "winning.")  When we went down to the dealership, sure enough, they had the lowest price on the car and the 1.9% financing.  We were finally ready to buy our new car. 

After about 4 hours at the dealership (waiting for them to detail and get the car pretty), I was able to drive the car off the lot.  (Yes, I did think about the several thousands of dollars that were leaving the car as I pulled out of the driveway, but I also reveled into looking at the odometer with just 7 miles on it!)

Now I am thrilled to have this purchase behind us.  Now bring on the carpools!

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